I know the old saying. Forgive and forget. It’s a notion I’ve struggled with for years. The forgiving part is hard enough. Forgiving some of the people I’ve known, for some of the things they’ve done, has always felt like a bridge too far, in the hurt and raw vulnerability. Forgiving myself for who and where and what I’ve been has never been easy, either
But to forget has always felt wrong. It’s always felt like an inappropriate response. And lately, I’ve started to realise just why that is. When we forgive, we accept what has been done, we let go, and we learn to live with it. When we forget, we erase. We erase what has been done, to us or by us, and we remove the opportunity to learn from it and grow. We put ourselves in danger, by no longer keeping what we’ve been through in our hearts as a guide to what we go through next.
And I think, to some extent, forgetting erases the growth that our hard times represent. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a whole lot of waste, of a whole lot of tears. No, I don’t believe we need to forget, no matter how much we forgive. I believe that there are things we have to hold onto, for our own sake.
Joan Westenberg is an award winning Australian contemporary writer, designer and creative director. She is the founder of branding and advertising firm Studio Self. Her approach to messaging, communication and semiotics has built her reputation as a writer, and she has been named as one of the leading startup voices in Australia by SmartCompany.
Her writing has appeared in The SF Chronicle, Wired, The AFR, The Observer, ABC, Junkee, SBS, Crikey and over 40+ publications. Her regular work can be found on Pizza Party, a blog about creativity, culture and technology. Joan is the creator Transgenderinclusion.com, an open-source workplace inclusion hack, and the author of the book #DIY, a manifesto for indie creativity.